I grew up in a very open household in New Jersey, where everything was very much embraced. I didn't really have to come out because my mom came out to the family when I was fourteen and my sister was seventeen. For a good year I was thinking she was gay because even though my mom is a bit of an elitist and has some prejudicial tendencies, she always had all these lesbian friends. She was always having women over – all these couples – and they'd bring their dogs and have barbeques in their matching sweat suits. It was like every horrible stereotype you could think of coming together! When she finally came out, I had already had crushes on girls so it didn't bother me, I was happy for her because she was always alone and never had anyone around. The funny part is that I was the last person she told. She told my sister, my sister's best friend, her own sister, and then me. I think she thought I would be upset about it, but on the contrary I'm the most open-minded in the family, and later on I would "come out" to her, when I was seriously dating a girl.
I remember my first crush in middle school, it was this girl on my basketball team and I was like, "Oh, that's real!" I remember almost kissing her at a sleepover party and looking back, I wish I had but I didn't 'cause I was too scared to. I was completely comfortable with my sexuality though, and I even told my best friend and she was totally cool with it. But my friends also knew my mom was gay. Telling my friends that my mom was queer was so okay, no one has ever been weird about it. In high school, I was hooking up with girls, but I didn't identify as gay, though being gay wasn't an issue either. I graduated high school in 1999, so being queer was cool!
Then I went to Rutgers and there was more making out with chicks, because that's just how that goes, and a lot of my queer girl friends would ask, "Are you gay? Are you straight? What are you?" And my line would always be, "Depends on the weekend." I was always very playful with it so I never really experienced non-acceptance. I was pretty popular in high school and college, so it was kind of like anything went.
I was mostly dating guys but I've only had two serious relationships with males. When I was with my second boyfriend, I actually started hooking up with a girl on a serious basis and I felt like that was my "in." I was thinking, "Oh I'm not really dating this girl, I'm just hooking up with her," while I had my boyfriend. He knew about her and she knew about him, so I was kind of having my cake and eating it too. That was the first time I was having regular exchanges with one girl in particular. So it was eased in real slow: "I have a boyfriend but I make out with this girl all the time." It was almost like a cover in a way.
That was when I was living in Denver. When I got back to Jersey, I was out for a girl. I didn't want a girlfriend, but I wanted into the gay scene. Openly around my friends, I was seeking females and everyone was totally fine with it. It wasn't even a question. In my search, I met my first girlfriend and it wasn't anything I was expecting, I was just looking to hook up. But we were just inseparable after the first week, which, looking back, is disgusting and so stereotypical! I knew better; I was twenty-seven years old and yet it was really a relationship, a serious, serious relationship.
When I told my mom I was dating this girl, she was just like, "Oh, really?" She was excited about it, and when I told my friends, they were all, "It's about time." My girlfriend and I had a pretty open relationship where we could pick up other people, so she would always pick up other chicks and I would pick up other dudes. It wasn't that traditional.
We dated for three and a half years and now that we've broken up, when people ask me if I'm gay, straight or anything, I stick with the word queer. I feel like it's the best word to describe me since it's just "different." I don't really fit one little definition. Queer is fun and it's open.
My girlfriend at the time was asking me what it was like to come out, if my mom was okay with it, and I was like, "Oh she's fine! She's gay so it's all good!" It was really important for her that her partner was out, and I was very intrigued to hear about her experience because it was very much the opposite. I can't really relate in that regard because I never experienced the kind of bigotry that some people do. I had a lot of friends say to me, "I wish I had your mom," or "I wish I had that kind of scenario."
It wasn't always easy though. I did have a few people that I had to come out to that I was nervous about: my godparents and my high school guy friends. Now, my friends all knew I was making out with girls forever, but they were all getting married and I had to go to their weddings. They're all Hispanic and the first to get married was my friend Brian. His parents were super strict. I said to him, "I'm kind of bringing this girl to your wedding." It wasn't nerve-wracking to tell my friends, but rather, their parents who had known me for so long. But they were all totally cool with it. I was the only girl in the group when we were younger, so I'm sure all the parents put two and two together as well, so they were really embracing about it. All in all, it was a pretty positive experience. I think a lot of people associate coming out with something very traumatic, but it doesn't have to be, it can be fun!
For images on our story tellers – Go to our LES Book